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Monday, April 3, 2017


I will be honest.  I do not enjoy the argument I have been having with the people who comment on this blog, and since none of us can do anything about what we have been arguing about [we agree on our goals and on all available practical steps to reach them] I am just going to stop posting comments on these matters.  Lord knows, there is no shortage of such comments in the blogosphere, so my words will not be missed.   I simply do not want to go on.  It is hard enough to have to live with the reality to which I seem to have been condemned for much, if not all, of the rest of my life.

As Hannah Arendt remarked to me after my lecture on Mill, when I told her I was writing  a book on Kant's ethics, "It is so much more pleasant to spend time with Kant."

Feel free to continue the argument in this comments section.  I will faithfully read what you write, but I just will not join in.


Guy Tennenbaum said...

That's too bad. The tinfoil hat society will miss you.

At least you can enjoy quiet satisfaction when the current occupant of the White House is hauled off to his execution for treason.

s. wallerstein said...

That's too bad.

Your opinion on the subjects which produce controversy in this blog interests me as do the opinions of those who disagree with you. I'm agnostic on many of issues discussed here.

Of course, it's not necessary for you to argue with those who do not share your opinions. You can simply express them and when disagreement arises, refrain from arguing in their favor.

Robert Shore said...

What a relief not to have to keep reading your endless cheering on Russia-gate which serves only as a trumped-up issue the Democratic establishment can blame for their loss of the election and which detracts attention away from all the awful things Trump is doing. As I see it the one thing that Trump does deserve credit for, if he can follow through on his campaign speeches, is his professed desire to have better relations with Russia, the last thing in the world we could ever have expected from HRC.

Now your blog can get on with your intelligent commentary on important matters.

Enam el Brux said...

Oh my. Forced to read a distinguished philosopher's blog! How awful.

Charles Perkins said...

I want to add another "that's too bad." As someone who lived in the Putin dictatorship, I think that "Russia-gate," as Robert Shore just called it, needs to be kept going until lifting Obama-era sanctions of Russia is a non-option. I have two Russian visas in my current passport and one in my old one. I have taught the children of Russian oligarchs to speak English. Equivocations between the failing Russian state and the (imperfect) democracy of the United States make me ill, probably because that's how I used to talk. Russia-gate started for me on November 9 when Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin publicly congratulated Trump
on his victory. A friendly Putin-Trump connection is the last thing the world needs. If all of the accusations of Republican collusion are wrong (which I very much doubt), the diplomatic (for Putin) and domestic (for Trump) snapback that Trump and Putin are experiencing as a result of their public flirting during the election is nonetheless a success, because it has turned an embracing attitude with the current Russian state into political suicide for future candidates. I enjoy reading your thoughts on Russia-gate very much, Dr. Wolff.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Charles Perkins, thank you. It takes very little encouragemnent to get me going, and your comment, grounded as it is in experience, persuades me that I ought to get back into the fray, devoid of real personal knowledge though I am.

Enam el Brux said...

Some Russians I know engage in "whataboutism." I propose to them a simple test: if the US and Russia are equally corrupt, try bribing a police officer in the US the next time you get pulled over. See what happens.

Prof Wolff, please continue.

Charles Perkins said...

Well, now that I've got started I might not be able to stop. I recommend two Russian movies. One newer movie Leviathan speaks to Flaud's point about corruption. (The "whataboutism" is infuriating. And unceasing. The earliest token issue I have heard of was the murder of the Scottsboro Boys during the Soviet Period.) The other, Tarkovskii's Mirror argues -- at least in passing -- that Russian culture has maintained a Jesus complex at least since Pushkin's time. (Probably since much earlier.) This perception of oneself encourages efforts at world domination that no one has any business encouraging by condoning Russia's behavior in Ukraine. (The word "Ukraine," for what it's worth, means "Of the Border" in Russian.) Notice that Russia covers one eighth of the world's landmass with an eerily homogeneous culture. (The original Russia is an area surrounding Moscow, about the size of Texas, I'd guess off-hand.) I see the similarities with the United States and Manifest Destiny. However the United States does not characterize centuries of domestic chaos as a sacrifice for the preservation of Western civilization. (One to be rewarded. In spades.) The dominant cultural narrative in Russia does. I am not a Slavonicist, but I think my comment is pretty uncontroversial for those who are. This isn't quite the same issue as Putin/Trump anymore, but it's a different set of reasons for chastising Trump's relationship with Russia that I'd like to see more of in the news.

s. wallerstein said...

Charles Perkins,

It is not the same issue as Putin/Trump at all.

I recall discussing these issues with you previously on this blog, and so I will merely repeat what I've said previously to you and to others: the U.S. record of imperialism in Latin America is as bad or worse as that of Russia or the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe or Central Asia. I'm not condoning Russia's behavior in the Ukraine, but as Chomsky says, first look in the mirror: that is, recognize what one's own sins are before rushing out to condemn those of others.

I don't doubt that Putin has expansionist plans or fantasies, but I also don't doubt that the U.S. is working hard to undermine the Maduro government in Venezuela and that of Morales in Bolivia, the two Latin American governments which have been least submissive to Washington. Yes, Maduro is a disaster, but he's not a dictator, as the U.S. media claim.

talha said...

Well if you do continue to engage on this, Prof. Wolff, would be interesting to see your reaction to the following from Chomsky - will it also meet the incomprehending straw man treatment you've given to Chris et. al here?

Matt said...

I'm not going to go into the substance here, but I'll second the film _Leviathan_. The director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, is one of my favorites - certainly one of the very best recent Russian film makers. (The film does a great job of melding the Hobbes and the Book of Job terms of the titular beast, for what it's worth.)

Charles Perkins said...

Hi s. wallerstein,

You and I haven't discussed this before, since I keep my comments to the Friday Lists. I can remember making one other comment in response to a question Prof Wolff asked about using the Gmail web interface.

I have no problem rushing out to condemn Russia when the question is whether or not we should try to be friends with them. US behavior in South America is nothing to condone.

I wanted to explain what diplomatic friendship between Russia and the United States [especially of Trump] might enable. The connection between the Russian ambitions issue and the Trump/Putin issue is the risk of enabling Russian imperialism. It's the risk of enabling a joint Russian-American imperialism. I am also fine with saying that.

s. wallerstein said...

Hello Charles Perkins,

Sorry if I confused you with someone else, who had lived in Russia and commented in this blog. Thank you for taking my mistake of who you are with such good humor.

Charles Perkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Perkins said...

s. wallerstein, My correction about being confused with another person looks much uglier than I wanted it to or than it needs to. Sorry; Guilty as charged. This is why I don't comment much. I think we don't disagree about this, though? Except we seem to have different reservations about condemning Russia. Which seems unimportant. Anyway, take care. I like reading your comments.

s. wallerstein said...

Charles Perkins,

Thank you very much.

I try to follow Chomsky's advice to always "look in the mirror" first before condemning others.

Take care too and I'm looking forward to reading your future comments.